Berklee Performance Center

136 Massachusetts Avenue,
Boston, MA 02115

Unfavorite 3 people favorited this theater

Showing 1 - 25 of 37 comments

chorn
chorn on December 4, 2015 at 9:32 am

We had one event last night – 100 Year of Popular Music. There’s another anniversary event on 12/16 – 100 Year of Musical Theater. Nothing related to the venue’s roots as a movie theater, unfortunately.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on December 4, 2015 at 9:28 am

Will they have any special event to observe this anniversary?

Comfortably Cool
Comfortably Cool on December 4, 2015 at 8:02 am

Later this month, the Fenway will reach its 100th birthday, having opened on Monday night, December 20th, 1915. Congratulations!

chorn
chorn on July 17, 2015 at 12:52 pm

Thank you both! We have tried the Athenaeum and Harvard, but not the Theatre Historical Society. I will reach out to them. Thanks again.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on July 17, 2015 at 10:42 am

Cathy- Try the Theatre Historical Society’s library/archive in Elmhurst IL. www.historictheatres.org. They almost certainly have a file on the Fenway, although I don’t know what’s in it. Also, the Harvard Theatre Collection which is in one of the libraries in the Harvard Yard -they might have a file, too.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on July 17, 2015 at 7:25 am

Have you visited the Boston Athenaeum? They have a collection of materials from old Boston theatres, possibly including yours.

chorn
chorn on July 17, 2015 at 7:09 am

My name is Cathy and I am the director of the Berklee Performance Center (formerly the Fenway Theatre). The theater is celebrating its 100-year anniversary this year! I’ve been trying to find history on the venue, but there seems to be very little available at the library, historical societies, etc. Do you all have any leads?

Coincidentally, I am also the great, great granddaughter of theater designer/builder EC Horn, who built many theaters around the same time as the Fenway Theatre was built.

dickneeds111
dickneeds111 on March 21, 2012 at 3:32 pm

The Fenway in the early 50’s was mostly a moveover from the Paramount. Same could be said of the Downtyown Loews Orpheum and Lowes State. Sometimes they played day and date.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on November 30, 2011 at 7:47 pm

The Globe has more detail on this: Berklee breaks ground on 16-story dorm, performance center

Only a single one-story building was demolished to make way for this project. The new building will contain a “400-seat student performance venue”. That’s a lot smaller than the existing Performance Center and I think it serves a different purpose.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on November 30, 2011 at 10:34 am

The business section of today’s Boston Herald has a short item reporting that today there will be a ground-breaking ceremony hosted by Berklee at 160 Massachusetts Avenue, just a few steps from the Berklee Performance Center. The new building will be a 16-floor dorm with a “performing arts facility”, and will cost $65M. Will the auditorium in this new building replace the Berklee theater???

MarkB
MarkB on August 15, 2011 at 11:45 pm

The Fenway in 1948 can be seen here:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/cityofbostonarchives/4404135227/sizes/l/in/photostream/

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on June 2, 2011 at 10:49 am

The Jan.15, 1916 issue of Moving Picture World trade magazine had a short item about the recent opening of the Fenway Th. There was also a facade photo. The building was owned by Colonial Realty and managed by Stanley Summer. The movie screen had “gold fibre” cloth. The organist also served at the Trinity Church. There was also an orchestra and “high class” vocal artistes who performed between films. There were young women ushers. Over 15,000 attended the open house on opening day.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on May 13, 2011 at 10:35 am

The Boston Herald reported today that the Boston Redevelopment Authority yesterday approved the Berklee College Master Plan for their section of Mass. Avenue. I don’t know what’s in the plan today, but 4 years ago it called for the demolition of this theater, and the construction of a new building containing a new theater.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on July 6, 2009 at 10:52 am

The Fenway apparently did not actually open until December 19, 1915, so the October estimate in the article above proved unrealistic. And it had 1,373 seats originally.

RogerNott
RogerNott on August 27, 2007 at 4:09 am

The Fenway was an ornate, beautiful theatre, though certainly not as impressive as the RKO Keith Memorial, the Metropolitan, the Lowe’s State, and the Lowe’s Orpheum. There was also a small bowling alley underneath the theatre and accessed through a door to the left of the main entrance.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on December 11, 2006 at 8:26 am

The MGM Theatre Photograph and Report form for the Fenway Theatre has an exterior photo dated April 1941. There was a long elaborate rectangular marquee with the name in big letters in the center. Attractions are Humphrey Bogart in “The Wagons Roll at Night” plus “Las Vegas Nights”. There must have been a pool hall upstairs because the word “Billiards” is posted in 2 windows over the marquee. The Report states that the Fenway is at 136 Mass. Ave., that it is not a MGM customer; that it’s in Good condition; and has the following seating: Orchestra- 822, Balcony- 490, Loges- 61; total: 1,373 seats.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on December 6, 2006 at 7:05 am

I wrote to with this question:

“From recent newspaper reports, it sounds like Berklee is about to demolish and replace the Performance Center. Is this true? If so, what will be its last day of operation?”

Within minutes, I got this reply:

“The project is in the initial discussion phase. I believe it will be at least several years before actual demolition occurs. Thanks for your interest in our theater.”

Tom10
Tom10 on December 6, 2006 at 6:49 am

Most likely the new performance center will accomodate World Music and others. That’s surely part of the business plan. Ironically, if the Gaiety had remained to be used as a performance space, the concert series could have continued there during construction.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on December 5, 2006 at 5:52 pm

The Performance Center is heavily booked by concert promoters such as World Music. If Berklee is allowed to demolish it, I hope the same promoters will be able to use its new theatre.

Tom10
Tom10 on December 5, 2006 at 5:39 pm

If the city allowed the Gaiety Theater to be demolished in the theater district, it seems highly unlikey that this isolated theater will be saved, particularly since the interior has been drastically altered. Boston could have been developed as a midrise city with careful preservation of a wide range of buildings that could have been woven into a fabric including new construction puncutated by the occasional high rise. Instead, we seem to be getting more and more towers.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on December 5, 2006 at 1:17 pm

A report on local TV news tonight stated flatly that the “30-year-old” theatre would be torn down and replaced with an up-to-date new concert hall. A photo was shown of the Berklee’s auditorium ( The theatre may have been used by the music school for 30 years but it is, of course, much older.)

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on December 5, 2006 at 10:10 am

Berklee has announced plans for new buildings, which unfortunately appear to include tearing down this theatre and replacing it with a new one:

Berklee seeks to build dorm tower and theater

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on November 18, 2006 at 7:42 am

Yes, the second photo posted above by Lost Memory shows the rear stage wall and the left exterior auditorium wall. You can clearly see the scar on the rear wall caused by bricking-up the old scene loading door at the time that Berklee College took over the Fenway Theatre. In the front view, in the far right distance, is Symphony Hall.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on February 25, 2006 at 2:21 am

On this 1928 map, you can barely make out the FENWAY THEATRE near the map’s bottom left corner. It’s on Masschusetts Avenue, one building to the right (south) of Boylston Street.